Reach Out @ Oly’s Artesian Well, Friday 8-22-14 @ 12:00 noon

Olympia, WA (Artesian Well, 4th Ave & Jefferson St, Olympia, WA 98501) - 

When:   Friday, 8-22-14 @ 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Where: Olympia’s Artesian Well, 4th Ave & Jefferson St, Oly, WA

There’s a lot of talk these days about how to help downtown. There’s also a lot of action, but it’s an unsung story. 

With this in mind, over a dozen nonprofit organizations and community projects are banding together for “Reach Out at the Well,” a street outreach and volunteer recruitment fair. 

It’s a chance to chat with folks doing the work, learn about available resources for coping with homelessness, illness, violence or job loss, and find out how you can make a difference in the community through street outreach work.

Participating organizations include Community Youth Services, POWER (Parents Organizing for Welfare and Economic Rights), SideWalk, Thurston County Food Bank, Partners in Prevention Education, Stonewall Youth, the Olympia Free Clinic and others. The Olympia Downtown Ambassadors will also be present.

The public can expect to find resources and volunteer opportunities for housing and shelter, youth services, back to school information, free food options, free health services, low-income pet care and more. Some tables will give away snacks and sandwiches; others will offer free on-site counseling, advocacy, and pet food to those in need.

Participating organizations include: 

• Community Youth Services 
• Rosie’s Place
• POWER (Parents Organizing for Welfare and Economic Rights
• SideWalk 
• Thurston County Food Bank
• PiPE (Partners in Prevention Education)
• Stonewall Youth- Olympia, Washington
• The Olympia Free Clinic
• Thurston County Needle Exchange 
• PB&J Project
• Family Support Center
• Covenant Creatures
• The Crisis Clinic of Thurston and Mason Counties
• Youth ‘N Action
• Olympia Downtown Ambassadors

…and maybe the Emma Goldman Youth and Homeless Outreach Project(better known as EGYHOP)

Organizers will also serve lemonade made with Artesian Well water. See you there!

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Urban Folk Review in Costume @ Spencer Lake 9-6-14

Urban Folk Review

Shelton, WA – This event is being hosted by Fresh Start Market & Deli of  2810 E Spencer Lake Rd, Shelton, Washington 98584. Tel. (360)462-4620 on Saturday, September 6 @ 6:00 p.m.

Four artists will sing and play favorite folk music. Come in Costume. Who will you be?

Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul & Mary stuff–all your Americana favorites. Come help raise the roof and have a hoot ‘n nanny good time. All your friends will be there.

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NYC Photojournalist Takes On Police Corruption/Abuse

Shawn Randall Thomas2

by Carlos Miller of PINAC

For ten years now, Shawn Randall Thomas has been fighting for the right to record  on the streets of New York City, landing him in jail six times and in handcuffs many more times without a single conviction to show for it.

Today, he is back in court for his latest arrest, a case that should have been dismissed back in February and should have resulted in the firing of NYPD officer Efrain Rojas after the video went viral showing the cop bullying and assaulting Thomas for recording an arrest from more than 30 feet away in a subway station.

And Wednesday, Thomas is back in court again over another arrest from last October where he was accused of recording inside a courtroom, which he never did, so they charged him with disorderly conduct, accusing him of using profanity, which he never did, seizing his phone and demanding he provide them with his passcode, which he never did.

That arrest, which he describes in great detail on his blog,  took place outside a courtroom within minutes after a judge dismissed a case against him from a June 2013 arrest where he was video recording outside an NYPD police station in an attempt to identify the cops who had arrested in January of that year for recording them making an aggressive arrest, which he also goes into detail on that same blog post, especially about a dirty cop named  Sgt. Mohammed Karimzada.

And he only resorted to recording the police station (video below) after the district attorney’s office continually refused to provide the names of the arresting officers during the discovery process, even though they falsely accused him of possessing a stun gun, which is illegal in New York City,  not that they were ever able to produce said weapon.

It was New York State court officers who arrested him outside the courtroom October 25, incidentally 24 hours after he filed a complaint against them with the Inspector General for arresting him on a prior occasion where he was handing out cards from a public sidewalk outside the courthouse, informing citizens of their right to record police.

All those arrests took place after the FBI arrested him on two separate occasions for photographing federal buildings in 2006 and in 2009, before the Department of Homeland Security was forced to acknowledge in a 2010 settlement there was no law against photographing federal buildings. He reached out to me after the second federal arrest, which Iwrote about here. 

Thomas was also awarded a $3,500 settlement around that time after NYPD cops ordered him out of a subway station because he had photographed a checkpoint they had set up where they were requiring commuters to open their bags upon entry.

It’s been a non-stop battle for him since 2004 when he was ordered by Secret Service to delete a photo of the back of a building being used by federal agents during the Republican National Convention.

“I didn’t know my rights as a photographer back then,” said the 48-year-old Brooklyn resident.

But he didn’t waste any time in learning his rights, reaching out to the ACLU since the civil rights organization had set up field offices around New York City during the convention, which nevertheless, has so far resulted in more than two million dollar in settlements with many more to go.

Once he learned the law was on his side, at least on paper, he started waging a one-man war against city, state and federal authorities over his right to record in public during the post-911 hysteria that had overtaken New York City in the years since the 2001 terrorist attacks.

His videos show he is not one to back down. A street smart, camera-wielding New Yorker with knowledge, not intimidated by street talking, gun-wielding New Yorkers with badges. A calculating man not afraid to roll with the punches as he learns how to beat the system at its own game.

So he is taking this week in stride, secure that his video and pro se arguments will help him prevail in each case respectively, wondering if Rojas will even have the gall to show up.

But it is also clear he has become a marked man, a thorn in the side of the system; a system not used to losing; doing all it can to smother his rights and freedom in order to send a message that public accountability from citizens will not be tolerated.

So perhaps we can give King County District Attorney Kenneth Thompson’s office a call at (718) 250-2600 or (718) 250-2000. Ask for Assistant District Attorney Charles Guria, who is assigned to his case.

Thomas, who was billed more than $1,000 for an ambulance ride from the jail to the hospital for injuries sustained from the arrest, stated the following on his Facebook page last week.

As I understand it, the Kings County District Attorney (Kenneth Thompson) is very much aware of the video, and the ADA assigned to this case, as I understand it, really does not know what the District Attorney’s Office is going to do, he is awaiting instruction from “his supervisor”.

To me, this speaks volumes about the integrity of the Kings County District Attorney’s Office and the D.A. himself (Kenneth Thompson). Here they have a case given to them by a cop (Officer Rojas) who they certainly know is a corrupt cop; a persecution where they factually know that the accused committed no offense. Yet they will not refuse to prosecute. Instead opting to have me placed in jeopardy while they seek political solutions, my guess is that they are searching for an out for Officer Rojas.

In the past a N.Y.P.D. Officer, Michael Ackerman, was indicted for doing pretty much the same thing Officer Rojas did in this case. The difference being that the photographer, Robert Stolarik, was working for The New York Times and is not a Black Male. Also, the Ackerman crime took place in Bronx County where the District Attorney’s Office has been known to openly frown upon Police Misconduct, as opposed to here in Kings County where, generally speaking, a Police Officer can do no wrong. Perhaps the newly elected Kings County District Attorney could benefit from some mentoring from the veteran Bronx County District Attorney.

Whatever the situation, I refuse to give up or give in. As far as I’m concerned, a declaration of war has been made and I’ve accepted it.

It was only this January that Thomas reached out to the newly inaugurated district attorney on his blog, asking for accountability.

Hello Mr. Thompson, My name is Shawn Randall Thomas. Congratulations on your winning the Office of District Attorney.

I’m a 47 year old “African-American” male, and one of the formerly convicted. I was born and raised in the Fort Greene housing project, literally, although my parents were not living there at the time of my birth, I was born in Cumberland Hospital, which is actually within the confines of that Housing Project. We moved into the project, our first time in public housing, when I was about 4 years old.

I’m the full time parent of two girls, a 6 year old and a 1 year old. I say full time because the conventional roles of mother and father in my household are reversed, and it was that way from day one. Often people see me with my children and kind of marvel as if they are witnessing a dad during visitation, not knowing that it’s actually the norm for me.

For employment, I’ve earned my dime as a Photographer for much of the past 12 years. Most of my work being at night, at home, and the occasional weekend wedding. However, I don’t shoot professionally as much as I use to. I’ve taken up a new career, thanks in large part to Law Enforcement Officials with Integrity issues. It’s a little dangerous, time consuming, with very little pay if at all, but I’m more committed to this job than I am to my own safety.

They say that when you push to hard or to often, you get pushed back. Well I got pushed to hard and way to often, meeting my breaking point on January 4th, 2013 when some cops falsely arrested me, filed false charges against me, planted a weapon on me, stole a camera from me, and deleted video from my cell phone. Then threatened to take my children and place them in the care of the State. All because I video recorded a cop abusing a black woman with a small child, without legal justification.

It was then that they picked my new career for me. It was not the first time “The Law” violated me, but it would be the first time that I would not accept it, and go after them.

I’m writing to you, not simply to welcome you to office, or to tell you my life story, but to inform you that this is going to be a tough year for you. I intend to see dirty law enforcement officers charged with crimes when there’s sufficient evidence to support the charges. And I intend on redirecting the public anger against the Police Department for abusive cops, onto the District Attorney’s Office for its wrongful use of discretion in declining to charge law officers where there’s evidence to support the charges.

He is scheduled around 10 a.m. at the following address:

Kings County Criminal Court
120 Schermerhorn Street
Brooklyn

New York media. It would be great if you can cover this. Thanks!

UPDATE: NYPD officer Efrain Rojas did not show up to court today, but that doesn’t mean the Kings County District Attorney’s Office will let it go.

No, they informed Thomas that they will continue to pursue charges of obstructing, disorderly conduct, trespassing and resisting arrest.

Now his trial is scheduled for June 17.

He also found that the department’s Internal Affairs Bureau is not even investigating a case against Rojas as initially assured because they say they don’t investigate “discourtesy” from officers.

In other words, the fact that Rojas allowed himself to be distracted from an investigation to harass Thomas for recording him from 30 feet away, assaulting, handcuffing and arresting him on false charges where he spent 24 hours in jail – not to mention a few hours in the hospital from injuries sustained – during the time in which Rojas no doubt deleted Thomas’s footage , then wrote up on the following report proven false by the recovered video, is simply a result of a cop having a bad day.

He will not be investigated. He will not be disciplined. And he will not be fired.

So much for Commissioner Bill Bratton’s new-and-improved NYPD.

Rojas statement

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Bee’ing Compassionate: 1 Olympian Strives for Bee Happiness

evergreen bee sanctuary

Local bee activist, Heather Wood, recently created the non-profit business Urban Evergreen Bee Sanctuary to manufacture and distribute beehives locally.

by Tali Haller

Exuding passion and enthusiasm, local activist Heather Wood is buzzing about her newly-created non-profit business, the Urban Evergreen Bee Sanctuary. The organization builds hives that maximize bee happiness and then distributes them (at low cost) to community members. “We’re essentially facilitating people’s ability to interact with, shelter, and give love to bees,” explained Wood. Their mission? To get hives to anyone who wants one, regardless of income. Their goal? To distribute at least 1,000 hives in the next few years.

Obtaining a hive is simple: call and order. There is minimal maintenance. (“The bees know how to feed themselves,” as Wood says.) Although actual bees aren’t part of the order, the organization can help you obtain a wild swarm. If you order now, you can expect a hive by spring, right in time for bee season, which is typically April to August.

beehive plan

he Urban Evergreen Bee Sanctuary stresses doing what’s good for the bees, not what’s easy or profitable.

The cost of a bee hive varies.  However, Wood stresses that anyone who wants one will get one regardless of financial challenges. She’s found that $350 covers the total cost. But because that is too steep for some, she is asking for extra donations from people who can afford it. This brings joy to my heart. It’s great to see an organization that genuinely cares about the cause they’re serving. As I see it, they’re willing to find ways to leverage the financial aspect for the intangible gains of bee longevity.

“It’s not about the money or the honey,” said Wood. “It’s about providing shelter for the bees and learning from them. They’ve been here for millions of years and they provide valuable ecological services.” In fact, the economic value of bees’ pollination services are worth millions in low estimates and billions in high estimates. Clearly, they are worth protection.

Yes, it’s not about the honey. But beekeepers can still reap the benefits. According to Wood, someone could potentially get up to 50 pounds of honey. “Peopleneed to leave the honey for bees to have during the winter and take it in the spring,” she stresses. “That is really important. It’s one of the main things that separates natural beekeeping, what we’re doing, from conventional beekeeping.”

beehive plans

Volunteers Katherine Kirchoff and Katie Schneberg construct a beehive together.

But what is the Urban Evergreen Bee Sanctuary doing differently? “We’re building hives that are completely different in structure than conventional bee hives,” said Wood.

The group’s hives are horizontal boxes with floating top bars, meaning they can be spaced appropriately (the honey comb is narrower at the front, and wider at the back). There are also windows in the side, so that you can have a peek at how the hive is doing without causing any disruption to the bees. In conventional beekeeping, you generally have to take apart the hive to look inside and see what’s going on. The design comes from Corwin Bell, founder of Backyard Hive in Eldorado Springs, Colorado. He calls it the “Golden Mean Hive.” If interested, you can purchase designs directly from him for $10 and make a hive on your own.

But the differences between Wood’s version of natural beekeeping and conventional beekeeping go beyond structure. There are also differences in treatment. According to Wood, in conventional beekeeping, bees are transported around to different farms, where they’re released to pollinate thousands of the same flower or crop. However, both the transportation and the limited variety of crop are bad for the bees, who are used to living in the same place for hundreds of years as a colony and having access to all types of flowers.

Conventional beekeeping also tries to keep bees from swarming (which is when a body of honeybees emigrates from a hive and flies off together, accompanied by a queen, to start a new colony). “But swarming is a natural and necessary process,” said Wood. “Conventional beekeepers stop swarming because they want to protect their investment. They don’t want their bees to get away,” Wood explained. “However, we need to let them swarm so that bees can stay genetically diverse and spread out.”

Wood wants to honor their timing and respect the “hive mentality.” “The colony is really like a body, each individual forgetting itself for the survival of the hive. They will literally feed each other before they feed themselves,” she said.

Although bee season is relatively short (under 5 months), there is no offseason for the workers. Year-round they will be making beehives. “We’re still working out all the kinks so we need as much help from the community as we can get,” said Wood.

Already, community donations, volunteerism, and interest is huge. Olympic Glass, located on the east side of Olympia, has agreed to give the Urban Evergreen Bee Sanctuary an incredible discount on 1,000 plexiglass windows for the bee hives. The Urban Evergreen Bee Sanctuary has also received a small grant from the Thurston County Community Sustaining Fund, which was the money that initially got them started.

“This project has been such a loving experience so far. Everywhere we turn people want to help,” Wood said with gratitude. However, to stay running, they need the community’s continued support.

“We would love more volunteers! They can make donations in money, time, or tools (we need everything from drills to screws, but we’re especially in need of bigger tools, such as routing tables). What’s more, volunteers with all sorts of skills are welcome – writers can craft grants, builders and people wanting to work with their hands can build hives, artists can create advertisements and help raise awareness.

If you’re interested in helping out or learning more, check out the Urban Evergreen Bee Sanctuary Facebook page, their website, or call up Heather Wood at 360. 551.0674.

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Obama Admits to U.S. Torture following 9/11

At considerable risk of ridicule for admitting the obvious, President Obama admits the U.S. beat the Nazis only to become just like them.

Barack Obama: The President admitted the use of enhanced interrogation techniques

by Nina Massey

Speaking at a news conference, Obama said the White House had handed Congress a report about an investigation into “enhanced interrogation techniques”

American President Barack Obama has admitted the US tortured people in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

Speaking at a news conference, Obama said the White House had handed Congress a report about an investigation into “enhanced interrogation techniques”.

He said: “We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks.

“We did some things that were contrary to our values.”

Obama banned the use of interrogation techniques such as waterboarding shortly after he took office in January 2009.

Obama told reporters the techniques were used because the United States feared more attacks were imminent.

“It’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had.

“A lot of those folks were working hard under enormous pressure and are real patriots,” he added.

Obama also said he had full confidence in CIA Director John Brennan despite a revelation the agency spied on a U.S. Senate committee investigating its interrogation techniques.

EDITORIAL COMMENTARY:

Really?  So the 1st black President of the U.S. now admits, after refusing to intervene in the imprisonment of Manning and the hunt to bury Snowden alive as well, that we beat the Nazis only to become just like them when the chips were down. They, of course, were ‘good’ Germans too–just like the ‘patriotic’ Americans the President eulogizes.

Mr. Obama, there is NEVER sufficient moral pretext to torture, just as there is no legitimate pretext for genocide or rape or slaughtering children. It does NOT MATTER how ‘effective’ it is or isn’t! It is a monstrous crime against humanity in EVERY instance. And those apologists for it, such as yourself in this instance, are despicable and deserve the same justice we meted out to Nazi war criminals at the Nuremberg trials…INCLUDING you!…and Bush, and Cheney, and Rumsfeld, etc. etc. along with all those and their lawyers in the highest circles of government or the military who made it possible. Those were the lessons of Nuremberg, and they remain as valid today as then.

Mr. Obama, you have shamed the Nobel Peace Prize committee who awarded you that prestigious medal. They and the honor of the U.S. may never recover after what you fecklessly (or NOT) so casually trivialize. You had an opportunity to stand tall for America, but now you look like just another apologist for those who have perverted it.

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Oly’s Hemp Fest a Historic Event

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Ganesh: God of Mischief

Olympia, WA (Heritage Park, 7-27-14) – The annual Hemp Fest in Heritage Park may have angered the gods, judging from the whirlwind that upturned vendor tents, destroyed exquisite glass bongs and assorted marijuana paraphernalia, but the event drew crowds of all ages, lifestyles, speakers, political affiliation, and musical persuasion. It was a sunny Sunday afternoon by the lake while children frolicked in the geyser fountain across the street.

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Reaping the Whirlwind

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Uprooted Tents Scattered Like Autumn Leaves

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Salvage Operation

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Broken Merchandise from Whirlwind

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Fair Weather, Foul Wind

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Expect the Unexpected

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Selective Wind of Misfortune

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Whirlwind’s Aftermath

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Whirlwind Marches Across Oly’s Hemp Fest

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Whirlwind Blows Away Petitions, Tents, Fragile Glassware

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Whirlwind Dances Across Oly’s Hemp Fest

Unlike the panic struck citizens of Mason County who recently literally wept before their Commissioners at a public hearing in protest after finding a marijuana processing business had been issued a license pursuant to Washington State law in their small rural residential zoned neighborhood, the State had granted a 2-day permit for the festival which became a historical event this year given the law now allowed recreational adult use of marijuana in private venues. Accordingly, fans were warned not to get caught smoking the herb in the park. This included the consumption of marijuana laced comestibles.  (Marijuana butter/cookies/drinks, etc.)

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Upbeat Countenance In the Face of Temporary Adversity

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Great Thighs Draw Bright Smiles

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Hemp Fest Attractions

A quarantined medical marijuana tent was on hand for those with a doctor’s prescription and ID. Petitions were circulated seeking to preserve Washington’s existing medical marijuana law/protocol which includes the legal right of those who can produce a prescription for it to grown their own weed in their own yard. A separate petition sought to legalize the growing of the plant by any/all adult Washington residents.

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Impromptu Singer Rallying Attendees

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Sultry Singer

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The festival went off, as expected, without a hitch except for one isolated incident where a man was cited after being warned repeatedly by the event’s security staff, campus police officers, and well wishers his act was still a criminal offense under the currently existing law. Marijuana still may not be legally consumed/smoked in public. Many, of course, violate this prohibition, but do so discreetly or in venues (e.g. Seattle Center) where the local cops have chosen to focus on more serious offenses. You have been warned–don’t blow smoke in the local gendarme’s face…at least until the petition to further relax the law about marijuana’s use is passed.

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Rock ‘n Roll Is Here To Stay

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Medical Marijuana Was On Hand

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Beautiful Woman Letting Her Hair Down

A faction of the Libertarian Party was present, promoting the further expansion of individual liberties and bridling under the thumb of a nanny state. The image of the State Capitol building across the lake was in stark contrast to the reality of how it was the people through the initiative process who changed the law, not our elected public representatives. The gathering was full of good vibes, smiles, and an assorted collection of true Americans who love freedom, who hunger for individual liberty, who loathe being told as adults what they can do in the privacy of their own homes by a government out of control. There were many speakers who repeatedly drove this point home from the stage in between musical sets.

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Reasons To Come To Hemp Fest

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Urine Sample Jammer

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Nanny State–Keep Out!

On a sadder note, Gideon Israel appeared to address the crowd which honored him with warm applause in recognition of his support for marijuana reform over the years. He was barely recognizable from his salad days in the early 1980′s when he resided in the Queen Anne Hill district of Seattle with the Love Israel family. Gideon was morbidly obese and confined to a wheelchair now. He had lost his property, he said, to the State after being prosecuted for gatherings he once hosted in Rainbow Valley which included marijuana at the annual event, sometimes with harder drugs also present.

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Glass Menagerie

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Medical Marijuana Advocates Roar

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Artisans Display Their Work

Gideon started out as an idealist openly exploring different non-mainstream lifestyles and family structures. He was brought low and dispossessed not only by a State/society hostile to those ideas, but by his own lack of judgment under the circumstances. It’s said a man must be very honest to live outside the law. Gideon failed to live according to that dictate. He grilled attendees at the entrance to his Rainbow Gathering festivals, asking if they were police officers or affiliated with law enforcement. Those who were, of course, lied in response about the matter and the court later found no basis in law to support the argument they were ‘trespassing’ after Gideon got busted.

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Gideon Israel

Gideon was busted because there were some resentful ‘snitches’ who turned him in, prompting the undercover cops to start investigating his activities while showing up at the Rainbow Gatherings. Rumor has it that on at least one (or more) occasion, some attendees arrived with drugs for sale. When Gideon discovered this, he seized the drugs upon the pretext they were illegal, but then proceeded to market them himself. The would-be drug pushers felt ripped off and went to the police in retaliation. During the time leading up to this crisis, many Thurston County residents felt apoplectic about Gideon and his festivals, so much so there was actually talk among them at at least one public County Commissioners Hearing about lynching Gideon! These were parents panicking in the belief Gideon was corrupting their children and perhaps turning them into drug addicts.

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Oly’s Hometown Head Shop

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Reflections

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Glass Abstractions

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Do (A)narchists Get High?

High Times contributed handsomely to Gideon’s legal defense and he avoided going to prison in a plea bargain that wouldn’t have been possible without his stout, though expensive, defense team. The lawyers were among the best there was in providing a defense against marijuana related charges. Gideon has been very public, including his pronouncements on the internet, in announcing his contempt for the criminalizing of marijuana. He became a marked man. In the end, the State settled for seizing his property instead of condemning him to a long term in prison.

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e-marijuana

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Not Your Grandma’s Hope Chest

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Gideon wistfully and sadly mentioned the dispossession of his land in passing when greeted and reminded of the day when the reporter and he shared a romantic interest in the same woman. She was a member of the Love Israel family living in the Queen Anne Hill district of Seattle at the time. It was said by locals, attempting to discourage the interloper, the Love Israel family women would not sleep with any men outside the family. This advice proved to be inaccurate…at least in this one instance. But, therein lies a tale.

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Mr. Natural

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Arm Candy

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A table full of home grown ripe tomatoes greeted passersby outside one of the homes owned by the Love Israel family in 1980 (who have since largely migrated to the Everett countryside for communal living). Anyone with a taste for home grown tomatoes was certainly impressed with this free offering–especially someone who had suffered a recent divorce and morbid bout of depression. The produce was delectable except there was SO much more to the story of the Love Israel family.

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Secret Herbal Ingredients

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No Tweeking

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Another Oly Head Shop

Love Israel was not only the head of the family in the most patriarchal sense imaginable, but also the son of a famous entertainer, Steve Allen.  Somewhat like the Bagwan Rajneeshis, the Love Israel family had acquired a number of expensive homes/property in Seattle’s Queen Anne district by requiring all members who were sufficiently infatuated with their lifestyle to join and voluntarily give up all their worldly possessions/wealth/estate to the group. The group claimed it didn’t believe in capitalism or private property and they certainly behaved consistently with this theory, at least in part. Yours truly was a guest of the family on a number of occasions including a room, bed, shower, and much needed camaraderie. Were these the offspring of the 1960′s flower children?

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One devotee had turned over an estate worth 3.5 million$ to the Love Israel family. Others, much less. Yet there were tensions/schisms in the family. Moreover, the interloper was warned by locals in the neighborhood to keep a firm grip on his wallet and possessions, that family members were no respecters of the notion favoring private property. In addition, Love Israel himself viewed the love bereft interloper with suspicion, publicly implying as much during his weekly quasi-religions services/pep talks the family attended. It turned out the donor of the 3.5 million$ wanted it back after discovering Love Israel was involved in drug transactions that extended far beyond smoking marijuana. There was a bitter court battle underway with the plaintiff’s attorneys involving the police whenever possible. The police, in turn, were only too eager to investigate Love Israel and his love children–another critical part of this tale. Thus, Love Israel was very paranoid, but with just cause. He needed information on who this stranger was and whether he was working for the Man. Gideon’s love interest would serve as a conduit for this counter-intelligence.

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Don’t Monkey w/Medical Marijuana

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Steady Now, Steady!

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Hand Me That

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Peace Pipes

Bicycling over 8-hrs/day spanned the width and breadth of Washington State in a desperate bid to fight off the morbid depression through intense exercise, diet, healthy sleep patterns–and, yes, counseling. Two women campers were met while biking on Orcas Island–the ice breaker being having forgotten to bring something as fundamental as toilet paper. They were generous enough to provide some. Conversation gave way to the revelation they lived in the Queen Anne Hill district of Seattle and they offered their hospitality if the clueless bicyclist was in their area while traveling. Some weeks later, it was in the  room they’d provided the bicyclist where he consummated his romantic interest in Gideon’s girlfriend. The intimate details and memory has not faded over the years, nor the suspicion the woman was on a mission, if not from God, then His representative, Love Israel. It’s said it’s an ill wind that blows no blessings, And so it was. Love’s paranoia was baseless, but it ended up providing respite for a wounded soul trying to recover from a failed marriage. Her mom encouraged the daughter, but she wouldn’t leave the family. Love’s grip along with his paranoia were firm.

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Abandoned Capitol Center Building

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The undoing of the family didn’t just come from the State’s law enforcement apparatus investigating Love Israel, but the many children the family had in their polyamorous relations where paternity could be in doubt given 1980 had yet to see refined DNA analysis. Love was not shy about enjoying the fruits of his ministry, the most palatial house, the finest garden, the most opulent surroundings. He was considerably less interested in providing for the education, food, health care, clothing, and other necessities for the family’s young children. This became a source of great tension among the more responsible males and mothers who lobbied for resources from the family’s pooled funds. Love obstinately resisted these overtures which began to take their toll on the family’s unity. Yet remnants of the family continue to exist, dwelling in the Everett area as loyal to one another as ever if somewhat longer in the tooth. They’ve run into resistance from officials in that county who claimed the land the family occupies is not zoned for multi-family residential use while the Love Israel family argued they are but one, though large, family.

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And so the 21st century has seen this saga come almost full circle with the State dispossessing both Gideon Israel, harrying Love Israel, and having dispossessed yours truly circa 1991. Gideon’s health has suffered more and he seems sadder. Oly’s 2014 Hemp Fest was, thus, bittersweet–seeing a battle scarred diminished champion of an alternative lifestyle hungering for the individual liberty we all do. It is well those who attended honored Gideon and his contributions over the years despite his human failings.

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Clean Cut Hemp Devotees

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Get Down!

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Life moves on, especially for the young. There were stunning bodies, beautiful personalities, radiant smiles, and free spiritual readings. Mason County could use some of that. It’s high time to clean out the dead wood, the patriarchs who would deny our birthright to compassion, individual liberty, the freedom to groove on one another, and the right to a clean sustainable environment–something only a sustainable economy can provide. It’s time to get our priorities straight and grow up as a society/nation. We cannot extricate ourselves from the hole we’ve dug by eating our children.

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Marijuana Butter

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Dabmobile

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Pogroms & Ethnic Cleansing: A New Beginning

Today’s Palestinians have become targets in Gaza of a powerful Israeli state. Yet Jews historically suffered similar oppression and reacted as desperately.

On this date (July 28) the following notable events occurred:

1764:  Birthdate of Solomon Etting, the Baltimore businessman and politician who led the successful fight to end Maryland’s laws that banned non-Christians from holding public office and practicing law.

1776: Jonas Phillips “sent a letter to a relative and business correspondent of his in Holland, Gumpel Samson by way of the Dutch Island of St. Eustatius. The letter begins by discussing his last letter and other business matters. He moves on to discuss the conflict with England and laconically mentions that the Americans have 100,000 soldiers to the British 25,000. He finishes the letter with an appendix of items he want sent to America so he may sell them.  There are two important things about this letter. First, Jonas enclosed within the letter a newly-minted copy of the Declaration of Independence. And secondly, Jonas wrote the letter in Yiddish. Since at war with Britain Jonas would have expected the letter to be intercepted, but by writing in Yiddish they would not be able to read it. The British did intercept the letter and not knowing in language it was written concluded it was in code.” Phillips was born in Germany in 1736 and came to America in 1756. After working as an indentured servant in Charleston SC, he moved North, eventually settling in New York City where he became a successful merchant who was active in the Jewish community of both NYC and Philadelphia and supporter of the American Revolution.  He was the grandfather of Uriah Phillips Levy, the first Jewish Commodore in the United States Navy.

1789(5th of Av, 5549): Meir ben Saul Barby the scholar who escaped poverty and served as rabbi at congregations at Halberstadt and Halle-on-the-Salle.

1794:  French political leader and revolutionary, Maximilien Robespierre meets his fate with the guillotine.  Whatever his other shortcomings, Robespierre took the unpopular stance of advocating full rights for the Jews of France when the subject first was debated in 1789. In part he stated, “How can you blame the Jews for the persecution they have suffered in certain countries?  These are, on the contrary, national crimes that we must expiate by restoring to them the imprescribable rights of man of which no human authority can deprive them…Let us give them back their happiness, their country and their virtue by restoring them their dignity as men and citizens…The vices of the Jews are born of the abasement in which you [Christians] have plunged them.  Raise their condition and they will speedily rise to it!”

Ironically, the same can be said of today’s homeless, poor, dispossessed, and disenfranchised–the sat upon, spat upon, ratted on. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. We now witness the truth of that prophecy.

 

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A Love Song for Heather

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Time In A Bottle

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Israel’s Dilemma: Winning the Battle & Losing the War

The notorious Chuck Colson, a Watergate conspirator, once famously said (as did Franklin D. Roosevelt), “If you’ve got them by the balls, their hearts and mind will follow!”

Palestinian militants of Iz al-Din al-Qassam, Hamas' armed wing, Gaza Strip, June 30, 2014.

Palestinian militants of Iz al-Din al-Qassam, Hamas’ armed wing, Gaza Strip, June 30, 2014

Shelton, WA (7-16-14) – The greatest challenge of our times is holding corporations and governments to the same moral standards required of individuals. Our failure to have achieved this dream threatens the nation, humankind, the environment, and, indeed, civilization itself. Even a casual observer can’t help but notice how the contradiction of this failure is playing itself out before the eyes of the world in Syria, Iraq, Palestine, and Israel. Ah, but that last in a maelstrom of words and blizzard of invective vainly attempting to gain the upper hand for public opinion over the ‘enemy’ along with whatever military/financial support comes with a successful media campaign.

Israel and the Palestinians have taken each other’s measure in this regard. They know each other only too well. Who cannot sympathize with a people victimized by the Holocaust and entire generations lost to Nazi death camps? And yet, what was the point of triumphing over the Nazis to become just like them when Israel seeks to exterminate an entire generation of Palestinians who call upon the right to self defense and self determination as devoutly as any Jew?

While Germany continues to pay reparations to Israelis for its war crimes even today, Palestinians were not the oppressors of Jews during WWII. Some have asked why western powers chose to carve a Jewish homeland out of Palestine for the survivors rather than the land of their persecutors after WWII which the Allies also controlled? Zionism had, of course, been around prior to WWII, but it reached its fruition in the partition of Palestine for a Jewish state.

Today, the Old Testament edict of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth passes for statecraft in the ongoing war against Palestinians and Israelis alike. Israel supposes it can prevail so long as it can prove it is more ruthless, more powerful, more ferocious, more murderous, more atrocious than its rival. What once was condemned as Nazi excess now is labeled collateral damage as innocent women, children, babies, and even hospital patients are blown to bits in a race to the bottom of immorality, atrocities. 80% of the victims of today’s bombing runs conducted by the Israeli Defense Force are civilians. This is a war crime by anyone’s standards except Israel’s and its primary patron, the U.S. At the same time, the storm of rocket attacks launched against Israel by Palestinians target cities and densely populated civilian neighborhoods. There is infamy enough for all.

Ambassador Ron Dermer is Israel’s chief diplomatic representative in the U.S. He asked some 700 American Jews on a conference call this week for their help in shifting the [media] messaging on Israel. Israel is being routinely portrayed in both conventional and social media as an angry, well-armed giant leaving many innocent victims in its wake during the current crisis with Hamas, Dermer said. Dermer is far from the only Israeli to believe his homeland is unfairly getting bad press–for a host of reasons including some of the following arguments.

Dermer told his audience Hamas may be winning the war over public opinion, as Israel is vilified for the civilian casualties [80%] its bombs cause in Gaza, while Hamas is not being blamed for instructing Palestinians to stay in their homes – even when they have been warned by the IDF the locations will be bombed imminently. Apparently those at the highest levels of government in the Jewish State believe Palestinians should evacuate their homes en mass to avoid massive retaliation. It is not known whether Hamas leaders have considered issuing similar warnings to Israelis or whether those targeted would comply or if the Israeli government would urge them to do so. If this were the case, Hamas would no doubt count it as a PR victory. That Israel’s leaders do not seem to see the parallel raises some interesting questions.

“Hamas is putting its missile batteries and command centers next to schools and hospitals. That is a major war crime. While we are doing everything possible to keep civilians out of harms way, Hamas is trying to put their people into harms way. Gaza’s interior minister said people should ignore warnings and go back into their homes. We are taking action to minimize, to the greatest extent possible, the number of civilian casualties; they are doing everything to maximize it,” Dermer said. Dermer didn’t explain how an 80% civilian casualty rate appeared to belie his argument Israel was attempting to minimize the number of civilian deaths, nor how bombing schools, hospitals, and other non-military targets could be expected to result in a reduction of civilian deaths. If war is diplomacy by other means and a violently brutal method of bending others to your will, targeting civilian populations is still considered a war crime. Much of the Cold War, of course, accomplished precisely that. Despite having the nuclear capability to trigger such terror and complete destruction, Israel prides itself for also having the conventional capability to accomplish the same ends. Gaza, after all, is a relatively small territory and lightly armed in the conventional sense. It is an asymmetric battle which Israel counts on winning, though hopeful it can do so without paying the price in public opinion. It’s not at all clear Israel can win this more total warfare or go the distance. After all, when you’ve got all those knives and forks, you’ve just GOTTA cut something! Born out of the Holocaust, is Israel doomed to forever revisit that nightmare by recreating it?

Yes, terrorists are vile and must be defended against. Yes, Christ may have been the Prince of Peace, but until all men are like him, it is well for us to keep our swords sharp. Still, can an unending escalation of violence bring peace without destroying the world? Jesus tells us no. Ghandi tells us no. Dr. Martin Luther King tells us no. Mandela tells us no. Israelis tells us yes. In fact, it is their national foreign policy. The U.S. appears to support this proposition. Is a continual compulsive ratcheting up of a cycle of violence and war crimes actually a legitimate exercise of the right to national self defense?–even for the descendants of Holocaust victims? Will an eye for an eye not lead to the whole world becoming blind? “War! Huh. Yeah. Good God, Y’all. What is it good for? Absolutely NOTHING!” -Edwin Starr- 

Dermer claims three quarters of Israel’s population has had to rush to bomb shelters in the past week and asked the Jewish Federation leaders on the phone call to advocate on Israel’s behalf with elected officials and local media. Dermer didn’t say what percentage of Palestinians had to rush to bomb shelters or if they even had bomb shelters they could access. His argument seemed centered around the notion leaflets warning Palestinians to clear out were a sufficient shield against allegations of war crimes…as though a note from one’s mother was enough. It sounded like an echo of the U.S. helicopter gunners who machine gunned civilians and children according to Bradley Manning’s expose of U.S. atrocities in Baghdad. When informed of the children they’d just machine gunned, U.S. soldiers were overheard sneering in the recording, “Well, they shouldn’t have brought their kids to a war zone.”

After the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, Germany, and France expressed support for Israel’s right to ‘self defense, Dermer said there hasn’t been enough focus on the fact Hamas’ approach is to use Gaza’s citizens as human shields. During one infamous incident during the Korean war, U.S. forces opened up with machine guns on a huge crowd of Korean refugees fleeing toward American lines from the retreating Red Chinese and North Koreans. U.S. officials later attempted to deflect criticism for this atrocity by claiming it was feared there were North Korean infiltrators among the refugees. The massacre remains a controversial sore point with many Koreans even today. Israel’s approach? Tried and true, like their U.S. allies, kill them all! God will sort them out.

“We haven’t seen the world come out strongly against the use of human shields,” Dermer admonished. “Hamas thinks they will succeed because we can’t be perfect. The IDF has hit 1,200 targets in a very densely populated area. Even if just one percent of those actions goes wrong it can claim civilian lives. [80% of the casualties have, in fact, been civilians, not 1%.] It is important for the international community to send the message that Hamas is responsible for sending these non-combatants into harms way. [Blaming the victims is a neat trick and a defense Nuremberg judges rejected in the trials against accused and convicted Nazis war criminals.] If they think it works and it leads to greater pressure on Israel, you will see it more and more. Putting blame on Israel is actually giving Hamas a great victory,” he added. Dermer failed to explain how holding Israel accountable for the huge number of Palestinian civilian deaths it inflicted was a ‘great victory’ for Hamas. Could Israel be shifting its strategy to allow for more civilian deaths among its own population to achieve a competing ‘great victory’? In order to ‘save’ the village, it was necessary to destroy it. In order to ‘save’ the country, it had to be destroyed. In order to win the war, the population had to be killed. Israel has crafted its own final solution.

“Anyone making Israel’s case should make the case of how other countries facing similar threats would act,” Dermer advised. “That makes it clear that Israel’s actions are astounding. Everyone here knows if America were facing this threat, it would take at least as strong action. Everybody knows that’s true and that’s how Israel has to be defended. We are not perfect and we should try to do our best, but we are imperfect. That should not be a reason for maligning Israel. We should be very proud Israel is upholding the values we’re upholding in the face of a direct threat.” It wasn’t clear just what the values were Dermer was eulogizing–a sharper sword and greater death toll inflicted? A reluctance to kill all the Palestinians in the Gaza strip in one fell swoop? A reticence to go nuclear against a militarily weak opponent? It’s a measure of how far we’ve lost our way when virtue is measured by damning with faint praise. 

“Never lose sight of the difference between Israel and Hamas. Hamas is deliberately targeting civilians. That is a war crime. Israel is actually trying to target the terrorists. Every time an innocent is killed that’s a failure…It’s important to remember that we are not perfect. We can’t get it 100 percent of the time right. We’re pretty close. When you look at how densely populated this area is, but we are not perfect…We go to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties,” Dermer insisted. An 80% civilian casualty rate is ‘pretty close’, in his mind, to ‘getting it right’. Setting its priorities on winning this battle, Israel has effectively conceded it cannot win the peace. Dermer did not allow for the possibility the Palestinian hawks were ‘imperfect’ too in light of the actual hugely disproportionate number of Palestinian civilian deaths Israel had inflicted. Not only is targeting civilian populations a war crime, but hugely disproportionate responses are considered war crimes as well–allegations Israel would have a difficult time defending against. The travesty here is a people so completely persecuted have become the persecutors, abandoning their claim to the moral high ground along the way by becoming more obsessed with the nature of Palestinian terrorists than their own.

“It’s hard for me to accept responsibility for Israel’s actions when I see how hard we try to put their civilians out of harms way, and risk the security of ourselves…What would America do, or Canada do, if three-quarters of its population were in bomb shelters?” he said. The answer, of course, was America and the Soviets prepared to destroy all mankind along with civilization itself. Mutually Assured Destruction was the background for brinkmanship such as the Cuban missile crisis when the world held its breath on the precipice of Armageddon.

Israel has not suffered more casualties because of “a very disciplined Israeli population paying attention to the home front command,” and the Iron Dome missile interception system, Dermer contended. It might also be related to the fact Palestinians have no air force or air defense system.

Iron Dome, which was partly funded by the U.S., has intercepted about 700 of the 1,000 rockets fired at Israel, Dermer said. “It won’t engage every one of them…only when it is heading toward a built-up area does it fire a missile.”

The system has completely changed the way Israel responds, he said. “Iron Dome has allowed Israel to control events rather than be controlled by them. It protects Palestinian civilians as well. It gives the prime minister and cabinet the option to approach the war in a calibrated way. Without Iron Dome we would have to act much faster and take stronger military action, which could lead to casualties on our side and the other side. Iron Dome has uniquely changed the battlefield for Israel,” he said.

He also sounded a defiant note. “I’m not going to apologize for the fact we’re able to defend ourselves,” Dermer said during the hour-long phone call. “More [people] have not been killed because we have a very strong IDF and have invested a lot in protecting our civilians. Those of you who doubt Israel is holding these standards, remember: Only one other country has faced this amount of rocket fire–Great Britain during World War II. It is always important to judge Israel by the way other countries would respond.”  Despite its technological and military advantages, one thing is clear: Israel cannot win the war by attempting to be the more ruthless or inflicting 80% civilian casualties in numbers that dwarf the damage inflicted by Palestinian terrorists. The death of Rachael Corrie is a testament to the resilience of a people and their dream. While Israel may easily inflict more suffering upon its militarily weak neighbors, it cannot win the peace by doing so. Like the Jewish people after WWII, history will prove to be on the side of the Palestinians.

 

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